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Ecology, Transport Infrastructure and Environmental Assessment
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering, Environmental Management and Assessment.
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Transport infrastructure has a wide array of effects on ecological processes. These effects benefit certain species and might enhance or accelerate ecological processes such as colonization and dispersal, but as well extinction. The overall impact on biodiversity is however negative and several authors conclude transport infrastructure to have detrimental effects on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Planning and construction of transport infrastructure is in the EU to be preceded by an environmental assessment process, with the overall aim to prevent rather than repair potential unintended negative effects. This thesis presents two studies on transport infrastructure effects on biodiversity in the context of environmental assessment. The first study reviewed how and how sufficiently biodiversity aspects were accounted for in environmental assessment of transport infrastructure projects and plans, and identified opportunities to improve concurrent practice. The first study concluded that the treatment of biodiversity aspects has improved over the years, but that the low use of quantitative impact assessment methods, the treatment of fragmentation and spatial and temporal delimitation of the impact assessment study area remain problematic. The second study assessed the impact of the Swedish road network on biodiversity by use of existing landscape ecological metrics and GIS. The second study reconnects to the shortcomings in environmental assessment practice identified in the first study, by discussing the utility of the method in terms of applicability in environmental assessment processes. The second study identified nature types and species adversely exposed to transport infrastructure effects, and concluded that sound methodologies for biodiversity assessment can be developed using existing tools and techniques. In sum, transport infrastructure influence vast areas of the surrounding landscape, and this is not accounted for in planning and design of new transport infrastructure due to shortcomings in current environmental assessment practice. Existing tools and techniques could be used to address several of these shortcomings, and an increased use of quantitative analysis of transport infrastructure effects on biodiversity would add significantly to the quality of impact predictions and evaluations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. , x, 18 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. LIC, ISSN 1650-8629 ; 2068
Keyword [en]
EIA, SEA, Transport Infrastructure, Ecology, Biodiversity
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123562ISBN: 978-91-7501-800-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-123562DiVA: diva2:627674
Presentation
2013-06-10, V3, Teknikringen 76, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
GESP
Funder
Formas
Note

QC 20130612

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2013-06-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Road Ecology in Environmental Impact Assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Road Ecology in Environmental Impact Assessment
2014 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 48, 10-19 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transport infrastructure has a wide array of effects on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and road and railway networks are increasingly being associated with a loss of biodiversity worldwide. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) are two legal frameworks that concern physical planning, with the potential to identify, predict, mitigate and/or compensate transport infrastructure effects with negative impacts on biodiversity. The aim of this study was to review the treatment of ecological impacts in environmental assessment of transport infrastructure plans and projects. A literature review on the topic of EIA, SEA, biodiversity and transport infrastructure was conducted, and 17 problem categories on the treatment of biodiversity were formulated by means of a content analysis. A review of environmental impact statements and environmental reports (EIS/ER) produced between 2005 and 2013 in Sweden and the UK was then conducted using the list of problems as a checklist The results show that the treatment of ecological impacts has improved substantially over the years, but that some impacts remain problematic; the treatment of fragmentation, the absence of quantitative analysis and that the impact assessment study area was in general delimited without consideration for the scales of ecological processes. Actions to improve the treatment of ecological impacts could include improved guidelines for spatial and temporal delimitation, and the establishment of a quantitative framework including tools, methods and threshold values. Additionally, capacity building and further method development of EIA and SEA friendly spatial ecological models can aid in clarifying the costs as well as the benefits in development/biodiversity tradeoffs.

National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123563 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2014.04.002 (DOI)000340141900002 ()2-s2.0-84899966986 (Scopus ID)
Funder
FormasStandUp
Note

QC 20140922

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. A spatial ecological assessment of fragmentation and disturbance effects of the Swedish road network
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A spatial ecological assessment of fragmentation and disturbance effects of the Swedish road network
2015 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 134, 53-65 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transportation infrastructure has a wide range of effects on ecological processes, which result in both positive and negative impacts for biodiversity. However, the treatment of biodiversity in planning and environmental assessment have been criticized, especially regarding habitat loss and fragmentation effects, the low use of quantitative methods and that of assessments being descriptive rather than analytical and predictive. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the Swedish road network by spatial modelling of road effects, to explore potential impacts of fragmentation and disturbance effects of roads on habitat networks for selected ecological profiles, and to discuss the utility of applying quantitative methods for environmental assessment purposes. Habitat and landcover data was used for creating habitat networks for six ecological profiles. Fragmentation and disturbance effects were modelled in GIS and FRAGSTATS was used to quantify ecologically important landscape metrics on habitat amount and connectivity. The results showed that natural grasslands and southern broadleaved forest were substantially more exposed to road effects in Sweden, compared to old coniferous and trivial broadleaved forest. Furthermore, habitat loss was a main consequence of road effects, and forest species with high area demands were most prone to be adversely impacted. Suggestions on method development in order to increase the quality of the analysis methods for environmental assessment are discussed. The potential is seen as high for use of quantitative ecological methods to generate baseline environmental information as well as coarse predictions on likely consequences of development options, useful for environmental assessment.

Keyword
Transport infrastructure, Road ecology, Biodiversity, Ecological profiles, Environmental assessment, Road effect zones
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123565 (URN)10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.10.009 (DOI)000347511400006 ()2-s2.0-84908701351 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 242-2009-1285StandUp
Note

QC 20150209

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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